A Travellerspoint blog

October 2012

Turkish Folk Tale

THE LEGEND OF ŞAHMERAN

Today I would like to recount a Turkish Folk Tale told to me by my students.

We were discussing snakes and if Turkey had poisonous ones, and I was told that indeed she does.
There is one variety in particular which resides in the area of Adana and also other areas along the Mediterranean coast. They did not know the correct name, they described it as black and that it can reach 2 to 3 metres in length. Three of my students have physically encountered this variety in the countryside and all of them warned of how dangerous it can be.
I have since learnt that this snake is probably the Black Cobra, which does indeed live in Southern Turkey.
So from learning that there is a nasty variety of a LARGE snake here, they proceeded to tell me the Folk Tale regarding this snake.
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THE LEGEND OF ŞAHMERAN

The legend of Şahmeran comes from Mesopotamia. It has been told and retold in Mardin for hundreds and hundreds of years. The name "Şahmeran" actually comes from the Persian name "Şah-ι Meran," which means "the shah of the snakes". Şahmeran was half a snake and half a very beautiful woman. She was a snake from the waist down, but from the waist upwards, a beautiful woman. Her portraits are traditionally hung on walls inside houses especially on girls’ bedroom walls. It is believed that hanging her pictures brings good fortune for them.

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Once upon a time, there was a tall and handsome boy called Tahmasp who lived in Mardin. One day, by mistake, he walked into a cave where thousands of snakes were sleeping. There he met Şahmeran.
Tahmasp couldn’t hide the fact that he was attracted to her although she was a snake from the waist down. Tahmasp remained in the cave for days on end, listening to Şahmeran tell incredible stories about the world and humanity. He was in awe, but when Azahmeran had told him everything and there was nothing left to tell, Tahmasp decided that he was missing the outside world and left. Even though Şahmeran didn't like this idea, in the end, she accepted it.

So Tahmasp returned to the land where he used to live. But one day, the king of that land got very ill. One of the king's assistants who was quite evil told the king that the only treatment that would cure him was to eat a piece of meat from the body of Şahmeran. The search began. Anyone who might know anything about Şahmeran was asked to come forward. One day, as Tahmasp was at the hamam, he was identified by soldiers who spotted snake scales all over his body. The soldiers brought him to the king's evil assistant. It turned out - not surprisingly - that the wicked royal aide's real aim was not to make the king better, but to hear about the secrets of the world straight from the mouth of Şahmeran.
Tahmasp was tortured until he revealed the location of Şahmeran's cave. So the assistant and the soldiers went to the cave and found Şahmeran who revealed her great secret, saying: "Whoever tears off a bit of flesh from my tail and eats it will be endowed with all the secrets of the world. But whoever takes a bit of flesh from my head and eats it will die instantly." No sooner were these words out of Şahmeran's mouth than the villainous assistant cut the half-snake, half-woman into two pieces, and ripped a bit of flesh from her tail. Tahmasp, horrified by what he had just witnessed, bit into a piece of flesh from Şahmeran's head so as to die immediately. But what happened instead is that the king's evil aide - having eaten a bite of Şahmeran's tail - died on the spot while Tahmasp appeared completely unaffected. It turned out that Şahmeran had anticipated the king's assistant’s plot and had seen to it that her lover, Tahmasp, inherited all her knowledge, while her enemy went to his death. However, in the wake of Şahmeran's death, Tahmasp was so bereaved that he isolated himself away from the rest of humanity.
Afterwards he is said to have become a legendary doctor, Lokman Hekim.

Posted by TravelnTurkey 01:54 Archived in Turkey Tagged children animals turkey snakes adana Comments (1)

Fethiye to Meis

Day visit to Meis / Kastelorizo

sunny 42 °C

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Having decided to renew my visa at Meis this time, I travelled down from Istanbul to Fethiye for a few days holiday and from there would do a day trip to Meis via Kas.

Also known as Kastelorizo, the current official name in Greek is Megisti which means “Biggest” ,ironic really as it is only 4 square miles (10 km²) and is the smallest of the Dodecanese, but the biggest of the small archipelago; (Turkish: Meis , Italian: Castelrosso).
It lies roughly 1300 metres off the south coast of Turkey.
Over the Centuries this little Island has been fought over by many Nations. The island was conquered by the Romans, the Byzantines and then in 1306 by the Knights of St. John of Rhodes who built the castle with its tall twin walls and loopholes, making it one of the strongest fortresses of the Aegean Sea. The Egyptians, French and The Turks have also captured it at one time or another.

I arranged with one of the tour companies to be picked up in Fethiye early morning, and waiting outside Migros at 6.30am in the morning, it gave me some quiet time away from the hustle of the tourist resort to reflect.

Fethiye will always hold a special place in my heart for many reasons. How happy I had been living here, how sad I had been here at times, and how amazingly beautiful this place is.
In this town I had seen my family enjoying fun holidays, I had healed a broken heart, I had fallen in love and I had done, seen and experienced crazy times.

The transport arrived on time, and I was pleased I was the only passenger. The driver spoke perfect English, and kept me entertained with his stories on the journey. He stopped at the scenic places briefly so I could take photos. Then we swept down into Kalkan and collected 4 other passengers.
Finally we arrived at the Harbour in Kas.

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Views of Kas from the Road

Kas is a place I will never tire off. It is so different to other Tourist towns. A little more “upmarket” and a different kind of clientele. My heart was a little heavy remembering a special weekend here at the Reggae Bar with a special person. Shaking off my melancholy I made my way to the Tourist Office to give my papers and pay the Fee.

I had a small argument with the guy running this place as they wanted the Visa fee in Euros, which meant the £10 note I had exchanged my lira for was actually useless. So changing yet more liras, this time into Euros, and muttering under my breath that I was actually paying more for my Visa this way, I left his office.

We boarded the boat after handing our passports over to the Captain, and I made my way upstairs, cornered a piece of the deck and settled for the short journey.
Meis is only 25 minutes from Kas on the ferry, and usually you have around 5 free hours on the Island before returning to Kas.
Even if you do not need a renewed visa, I would recommend it as a great place for a visit. So near to Turkey yet within a short time you are really in Europe.

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Approaching Meis and the Harbour Area

Disembarking I strolled around the small harbour, captivated by the colourful houses which really give you a true feeling of being in the Mediterranean region. I passed a small building which houses the Duty Free…YES Duty free.
As I passed one small café I noticed a sign for sausage rolls. OMG Yes, I forgot this is not a Muslim Country. I sat quickly and ordered 3 !
Sated with 3, although they tasted so good, I possibly could have stayed there all afternoon eating sausage rolls, I decided I should now exercise them off.
At one end of the harbour walk is a small bar with some sun loungers and from the concrete area, people were diving and swimming in the most amazing clear waters.
I grabbed a bed, and proceeded to copy everyone else and relaxed with a drink and a cooling dip.
Of course everything is in Euros, although some of the shops did take Turkish Lira, I have to say I really don’t know if it was cheap or not.
Refreshed I dressed and wondered around for a while.
I know there are a few places that are must visits here, but the Temperature was in the 40’s and I did not feel inclined to wander too far from the waterfront.

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The Waterfront and the Crystal Clear Waters

After visiting the Duty Free and stocking up, I made my way back to the boat.
I sat in a small café and was quickly joined by a couple of people who have retired to Kas, and their friends, some Turkish Captains. We ordered beers and snacks, and spent the last hour or so jovially recounting our experiences in Turkey.

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Finally it was time to embark for the short journey back.

Arriving in Kas, as we disembarked the Turkish harbour Police checked our documents, and waved us off.
I meandered around Kas for a while, marvelling again at this wonderful slice of heaven in Turkey, and then it was time for the pickup to take me back to Fethiye.

The journey back was quick, with a different driver, and after dropping the others at Kalkan I was once again alone.

We sped along the Highway towards Fethiye and I glanced briefly at an old man across the other side of the road, walking with some goats and his dog, when suddenly the dog dashed across the road. My driver had no chance and there was an almighty sickening thud and then the car lifted as it went over the dog.
Panic stricken I imagined he would stop, but no, he calmly looked in his mirror and assured me the dog had got up and was walking. I turned to check, but all i could see was the old man hurrying across the road. Would I ever get used to the indifference towards animals here.

Pulling into Fethiye, the sun was setting, and I thanked the driver and quickly checked the outside of the car. There was a tiny indent on the front bumper, but that was it.

As I was leaving for Istanbul the following morning, I wanted to savour the last few hours in Fethiye so I made my way to the Harbour where I ate a fish meal, and people watched before heading back to my hotel.

Posted by TravelnTurkey 12:49 Archived in Turkey Tagged animals boats travel turkey visa border kas meis Comments (0)

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